On March 14th, 2010 at 2:00 a.m., Daylight Saving Time begins. We try to remember the old adage “Spring forward, fall back.” We change our clocks, watches, DVD players and appliances ahead one hour. We lose a precious hour of sleep. But how did this all start and is the savings really worth it?
Daylight Saving Time actually began in 1916 during World War I, but had been suggested long before by Benjamin Franklin in 1784. Franklin first entertained the idea in an essay he wrote for the Journal de Paris titled An Economical Project detailing the the energy savings benefits with natural light versus artificial. The ritual has evolved often through the years.
Daylight Saving Time in the U.S.
In the United States the law we abide by in regards to Daylight Saving Time is called the Uniform Time Act of 1966. The law does not require the observance of Daylight Saving Time but if it is observed it must be done uniformly. The states that do not participate are: most of Arizona, Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. For a list of countries that participate, please click here.
Does Daylight Saving Time Actually Save Energy?
Is all this changing our clocks back and forth twice a year beneficial in energy savings? According to a recent Department of Energy study it does. Facts in the report as outlined by Robert Schlesinger of US News & World Report states:
“The total electricity savings of Extended Daylight Saving Time were about 1.3 Tera Watt-hour (TWh). This corresponds to 0.5 percent per each day of Extended Daylight Saving Time, or 0.03 percent of electricity consumption over the year. In reference, the total 2007 electricity consumption in the United States was 3,900 TWh.
“In terms of national primary energy consumption, the electricity savings translate to a reduction of 17 Trillion Btu (TBtu) over the spring and fall Extended Daylight Saving Time periods, or roughly 0.02 percent of total U.S. energy consumption during 2007 of 101,000 TBtu.”
Schlesinger puts that in lay terms for the rest of us by stating: “My colleague Maura Judkis put it in perspective, saying that it saves roughly the total energy used in a year by the city of Vancouver (around 106,000 households).”
Also according to The California Energy Commission, “In the average home, 25 percent of all the electricity we use is for lighting and small appliances, such as TVs, VCRs and stereos. A good percentage of energy consumed by lighting and appliances occurs in the evening when families are home. By moving the clock ahead one hour, we can cut the amount of electricity we consume each day. Studies done in the 1970s by the U.S. Department of Transportation show that we trim the entire country’s electricity usage by about one percent EACH DAY with Daylight Saving Time.”
I’d say it’s worth the effort and a great savings on energy, don’t you? On a recent poll, 40 percent of Americans did feel it was worth the effort. I, for one, am actually baffled why we don’t do Daylight Saving Time year round. I hate when we lose an hour, but I love the longer days. It makes me feel more productive once I get home from work, knowing I can do more things outside longer. Plus we use less household energy during this time, a definite bonus.
Is it Daylight Saving Time or Daylight Savings Time?
And one very interesting fact I realized. There is no “s” in Daylight Saving Time but everyone still calls it Daylight Savings Time. I’m sure even while you were reading this you did one of two things: think this writer needs to learn how to spell Daylight Savings Time or you actually skimmed over the word thinking the “s” was there. Now you know. So spring forward tonight, then tomorrow go out and enjoy that extra hour of sunshine!